Summary: The seven churches of Revelation are a picture of the types members in local congregations. They reveal what Christ sees when he looks at the Body of Christ.
CONDITION FOR REVIVAL: SEEING THE CHURCH AS CHRIST SEES THE CHURCH
Introduction: We have looked at two conditions which prepare us for revival and a fresh outpouring from God; the first – Seeing God in His Holiness; the second – Seeing Ourselves as God Sees Us. Today we look at a third condition; seeing the church as Christ sees the church.
In Revelation 2 and 3, we have Christ giving to John a message to the seven churches established in Asia Minor. Each church is given a description of what Christ has observed in them. Christ gives messages of rebuke, instruction, and encouragement to these churches. These churches, prophetically, are symbolic of the church age and the course of church history. But they are also a picture of the various types members of local congregations. They reveal what Christ sees when he looks at the Body of Christ.
I. The Church at Ephesus – Revelation 2:1-6
A. Here was a church filled with Christians who go through the motions.
B. Here we see members who believe the right things, who work ceaselessly, and who stand resolutely but who do it all mechanically without a love for what they are doing, without a love for those who they do it with, or without a growing and deepening love of Him who redeemed them. They are active and busy but doing what they do without the right motivation. Their hearts are not in what they are doing.
C. Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
D. They have forgotten that one part of their calling is to grow in grace, knowledge, and love for God.
E. 2 Peter 3:18 “...grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
F. Philippians 1:19 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment”
G. Keys to knowing when one has lost their first love from Pulpit Helps:
1. When my delight in the Lord is no longer as great as my delight in someone else, I have lost my first love.
2. When my soul does not long for times of rich fellowship in God’s Word or in prayer, I have lost my first love.
3. When my thoughts during leisure moments do not reflect upon the Lord, I have lost my first love.
4. When I claim to be “only human” and easily give in to those things I know displease the Lord, I have lost my first love.
5. When I do not willingly and cheerfully give to God’s work or to the needs of others, I have lost my first love.
6. When I cease to treat every Christian Brother as I would the Lord, I have lost my first love.
7. When I view the commands of Christ as restrictions to my happiness rather than expressions of His love, I have lost my first love.
8. When I inwardly strive for the acclaim of this world rather than the approval of the Lord, I have lost my first love.
9. When I fail to make Christ or His words known because I fear rejection, I have lost my first love.
10. When I refuse to give up an activity which I know is offending a weaker brother, I have lost my first love.
11. When I become complacent to sinful conditions around me, I have lost my first love.
12. When I am unable to forgive another for offending me, I have lost my first love. - Pulpit Helps, May, 1992
II. The Church at Smyrna – Revelation 2:8-10
A. There are Christians who are under fire in their Christian lives and struggling with all the problems and perplexities causing them to be in danger of throwing in the towel, giving up, quitting.
B. The English word tribulation is from the Greek - thilipsis, which means crushing beneath a weight. The word poverty is from the Greek - ptocheia, which means real destitution. Those of Smyrna are under much personal pressure and have virtually no material goods.
C. Revelation 2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
D. Warned not to give up or give in but to remain faithful.
E. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NLT) “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
F. In one of the German art galleries a painting called "Cloud Lane" hangs at the end of a long dark hall. At first glance it appears to be a huge, ugly mass of confused color that is unattractive and foreboding. But when you look closer, you see portrayed on the canvas an innumerable company of angels. How tempted we are to run in despair when clouds of trials and temptations come our way. If we would look closely at our situation through the eyes of faith, we would also see God’s angels of mercy coming to our aid. – copied